There is no longer any doubt that the crime rate in the United States of America has reached an all-time high. This claim is supported by the following statistics. In a study of US prisons in the 21st century, it was discovered that “In 2003, 22 states and the federal prison system reported operating at or above capacity. The federal system was estimated to be operating at 39 percent, and overall the state systems were operating at 14 percent above capacity”. This is a serious problem.
Michael Jacobson pointed out that America is experiencing a crisis in its criminal justice system. Jacobson added, “The United States now locks up a higher percentage of its population than any country in the world. The more than 2 million people who are incarcerated today make up roughly eight times the number in 1975” . While it can be argued that this is simply a byproduct of a deeper social issue, many are also saying that overcrowded prison is due to tougher laws.
Thus, there are those who are advocating that instead of being harsh to first-time offenders, restorative justice must instead be applied. Restorative justice can be in the form of restitution. Instead of incarceration the offender can go to the victim and show remorse, pay for the damages, and even perform community service. Advocates explain the rationale by saying that, “According to the concept of restorative justice, the true purpose of the criminal justice system is to promote a peaceful and just society; the justice system must aim for peacemaking, not punishment…”. Since first-time offenders are not rehabilitated and go on to become hardened criminals there is wisdom in pursuing restorative justice as an alternative means to combat crime.